EU leaders meet to discuss migration, war in Ukraine

Brussels, Jun 29 (EFE).- European Union leaders meeting for a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday were due to discuss ways to tackle the migration crisis as well as the current situation with Russia’s “war of aggression” in Ukraine.

In recent weeks hundreds of migrants have died attempting to reach Europe by sea, after an overcrowded fishing trawler that had departed from Libya en route to Italy sank off the coast of Greece.

Irregular migration has been a divisive issue between member states, with Italy in particular calling for more support from the rest of the bloc to deal with increasing numbers of arrivals through the Central Mediterranean.

Upon her arrival in Brussels, Italy’s right-wing prime minister Giorgia Meloni said she was pleased that the Council earlier this month had reached an agreement on key asylum and migration laws.

This “was probably unthinkable eight months ago. We have managed to change points of view,” said Meloni, who referred in particular to the EU’s willingness to work closely with Tunisia to curb irregular arrivals.

The newly re-elected Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, advocated “working even more closely with Turkey” and stressed that it is imperative to cooperate with the transit countries in North Africa, in particular with Libya.

Mitsotakis welcomed the progress made so far in the pact on migration and asylum, especially on the “principle of solidarity”, and highlighted the difficulties facing countries on the EU’s external borders like Greece.

He also referred to the “tragic” migrant boat sinking near Greece, blaming the tragedy on human traffickers and defending the Greek Coast Guard, which has come under fire for its handling of the incident.

Poland and Hungary have rejected the agreement between member states reached earlier this month which sets a quota and penalty fees for relocating asylum seekers.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, for her part, said that during the meeting she will present reports on how to strengthen the EU’s external border, on the bloc’s fight against smugglers and traffickers, and on the EU’s investments in “economic stability in countries of origin, because this is the best way to have a people to people connection and to make sure that there is qualified, legal and safe migration.”

The EU leaders will also discuss the situation with the war in Ukraine in the wake of the mutiny led by the head of the Wagner Group paramilitary force in Russia as well as the bloc’s continued support for the Kyiv government. EFE


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